Glenwood Caverns Announces “Defiance” for 2022

Earlier this year, roller coaster enthusiasts were guessing where a “mystery” record-breaking roller coaster from Gerstlauer would land in 2022. Today, we got our answer. As first reported by USA Today’s Arthur Levine, the mystery record breaker will be known as Defiance, and will open at Colorado’s Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park next year.

“We thought this would be out of our league,” Nancy Heard, the park’s general manager, was quoted by Levine, referring to Defiance. “And it is a bit of a stretch. But the view will be absolutely phenomenal. And the drop will take your breath away.”

Riders will face a 75-foot tall vertical lift, before dropping 110′ at a vertical angle of 102.3-degrees, immediately followed by three inversions — a “twisted top hat,” a “banana roll,” and a zero-G stall before returning to the station. Defiance has a top speed of 56 miles per hour.

At the top of the lift hill, the trains will slow to a crawl for what has been dubbed a “panorama stall.” At its tallest, Defiance will be 7,132′ above sea level, and straddles Iron Mountain, which itself is 1,300′ above the nearby Colorado River and town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.In intial concepts, building the coaster would have proven to be more complicated and making the park’s largest investment to date even more cost-prohibitive.

“Originally, we wanted the coaster to go off the edge of the cliff,” Heard said.

The 8-passenger trains will only feature lap bar restraints.

“You’ll be suspended at the top of the mountain looking down at Glenwood Springs before you disappear into the abyss with nothing but a lap bar,” Heard told Levine.

For Ride Entertainment, who handle the sales of all Gerstlauer roller coasters in North America, the opportunity to build an attraction at Glenwood Caverns is going to be exciting, but challenging. According to Ride’s CEO Ed Hiller, “it will be one of the most formidable installations that Ride Entertainment has ever faced.”

According to Levine, to access the park, service vehicles climb a narrow, steep, dirt road that includes several switchbacks. Just getting the equipment, track, and other materials to the top of Iron Mountain will require lots of planning and deft handling, especially when tractor trailers and semi-trucks are involved.

“We’ll probably have to unload the trailer, take a crane, lift the flatbed up and turn it 180 degrees so we can point it back downhill,” Heard said.

Construction of Defiance is scheduled to begin in early Spring 2022.

The coaster will join a list of attractions at Glenwood Caverns included 2017’s Haunted Mine Drop, and three roller coasters — the more traditional Cliffhanger (the former Celebration City “Thunderbolt”) and Wild West Express Zierer family coaster, as well as an Alpine Coaster from Weigand.

Up until 2003, Glenwood Caverns only offered cave tours, but over the past 15-plus years, attractions have been key additions for the Adventure Park’s expansion and future growth.

“Defiance is going to be a big shot in the arm, especially post-COVID,” Heard told Levine.

(Like Arthur, I love the unrealized pun.)

Be sure to read the entire announcement of Defiance at USA Today!